Translating nature rules from the EU to the individual farmer’s level: Dutch environmental cooperatives as regulatory intermediaries
Professor Suzanne Kingston
The myriad of environmental rules that have been established by the European Union (EU) over the last thirty years have not changed the fact that biodiversity and nature conservation across the Union is still in an alarmingly feeble state. A key issue here seems to be not the lack of rules, but rather the lack of an effective translation from the EU domain to that of individual actors that the rules are targeted towards. Focusing specifically on the governance of nature conservation and biodiversity protection in agricultural landscapes, the present research project tests the potential of collective approaches in promoting agri-environmental farming. The study takes the Netherlands as a case study, where recently, regulatory powers such as the issuing of subsidies for agri-environmental activities, and the monitoring of whether these activities are actually carried out, have shifted from the EU and national level to so-called ‘environmental cooperatives’. Farmers seeking to partake in agri-environmental subsidy schemes can only do so by joining one of the currently forty region-based cooperatives in place, which are composed of groups of farmers and other stakeholders that have organized themselves as legal entities.
While the potential value of environmental cooperatives in mobilizing farmers’ commitment to environmental protection has been recognized in the literature, numerous risks of the cooperative approach can also be distinguished, including regulatory capture and policy drift. Applying the Regulator-Intermediary-Target (RIT) model grounded in regulatory theory, my research examines empirically to what extent these environmental cooperatives have been successful in aligning the regulatory targets (farmers) more closely to the goals and strategies of the key EU regulations in the field, flowing most prominently from respectively the CAP and the main EU Nature Directives (Birds & Habitats Directive).
Edwin Alblas is a PhD student at the Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin (UCD). As part of the European Research Council (ERC) funded Effective Nature Laws project led by professor Suzanne Kingston, his research focuses on compliance and governance issues in the field of EU biodiversity law. Edwin obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree through the interdisciplinary Liberal Arts & Sciences program at Tilburg University (with Honors), during which he also spent an exchange semester at the University of Western Australia. He subsequently completed a Research Master in Law (LLM), co-taught at Tilburg University and KU Leuven (cum laude). Prior to starting his PhD, Edwin took an internship at the EU department of the Dutch Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations. During his time at UCD, Edwin has given guest lectures on environmental law & policy (both undergrad and postgrad) and has co-taught the module Regulatory Governance with professor Colin Scott. He has published in a number of international peer-reviewed journal, both in the fields of (environmental) law and political science, including European Union Politics, Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law and Theory and Practice of Legislation. Besides issues of EU environmental law and policy, his publications deal with empirical investigations of the role and functioning of the Court of Justice of the EU within the European legal order, and (evidence-based) EU lawmaking. Alongside his research activites, Edwin is active in promoting climate action, most prominently as spokesperson for Climate Case Ireland, and as organizer of climate awareness events such as ‘Message to the Earth - Talks+Exhibition’ (January 2019, Dublin). He expects to complete his dissertation in 2021.
Presentations and/or Publications:
Castro-Montero, J. L., Alblas, E., Dyevre, A., & Lampach, N. (2018). The Court of Justice and treaty revision: A case of strategic leniency? European Union Politics, 19(4), 570-596.
Van Vugt, E., & Alblas, E. (2016). Editorial: Special issue on Horizontal Transformations in Administrative Norms and Procedures, Tilburg Law Review issue, 21(2), 1-3.
S. Kingston & E. Alblas, ‘Of the people, by the people, for the people? The EU’s experience with private environmental regulation and enforcement’ in L. Senden (ed.) Private Regulation and Enforcement in the EU: finding the right balance from the citizens perspective (Forthcoming 2020, Hart publishing).
A. C. M. Meuwese & E. C. Alblas, ‘Intrekken en wegwezen: hoe ver mag de Europese Commissie gaan?’ Case note in Ars Aequi (01-06-2016)
E. Alblas, 'Promoting agri-environmental farming practices: the case of environmental cooperatives in the Netherlands’ 11th Annual Postgraduate Research Symposium on Environmental Law University College Cork, 10 April 2019
Alblas, E. & van Vugt, E., 'Urgenda in hoger beroep: Procederen voor het klimaat anno 2018' Nederland Rechtsstaat (28-05-2018), available at: https://www.nederlandrechtsstaat.nl/forum/id265/28-05-2018/urgenda-in-hoger-beroep-procederen-voor-het-klimaat-anno-2018.htm
E. Alblas, 'Grondwettelijke voornemens: Klimaatverandering tegengaan’ Nederland Rechtsstaat (03-01-2017), available at: https://www.nederlandrechtsstaat.nl/forum/id209/03-01-2017/grondwettelijke-voornemens-1-klimaatverandering-tegengaan.html